What’s changed for baby boomers since we were kids?

If you were to list, say, the hundred things that have changed for baby boomers since we were just kids — maybe even the thousand things — you might not include your medicine cabinet. But for BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien of Redondo Beach, California, that one goes right near the top of the list. Not because times have changed, but because … um … we have.

When I was just a young baby boomer, I used to open the medicine chest to look for three things inside: my toothbrush, a tube of Gleem toothpaste (with tasty green sparkles), and my imaginary friend, Callie.


Nowadays, the shelves of the medicine chest resemble the closet, as my facial care products slowly encroach upon my husband’s personal space. There’s the micellar water, Vitamin E oil, purifying mask, skin brightening scrub, toner, antioxidant serum, hydrating lotion, eye cream, broad spectrum sunscreen, and of course all the free samples, aiding me in my quest for youth. There’s no room inside for an imaginary friend!

Erin O’Brien … enjoying the wind and waves at Redondo Beach, CA.

Erin O’Brien … enjoying the wind and waves at the beach near her home at Redondo Beach, CA.

I think it’s a conspiracy by the personal care products industry to make women feel as insecure as possible in order to convince us to purchase their products. Crow’s feet, age spots, unwanted hair, wanted hair, the wrong color hair, and the dreaded visible panty lines are all to be feared.

Imagine walking into the drug store and filling your basket with personal hygiene items. It sounds like a fraternity hazing scheme. But trust me, I’ve been there. (“Please don’t do a price check on the tongue scraper,” I plead with the cashier, “just name your price!”)

I envy the ease of my husband’s morning routine which basically includes a comb and a toothbrush, like he’s going camping. Or, as a friend’s dad says of his routine, “The three S’s: shit, shower, and shave.”

The medicine cabinet ... Erin's things at the bottom, her husband's at the top.

The medicine cabinet … Erin’s things at the bottom, her husband’s at the top.

When I was in my twenties I gave my boss gifts of Geritol, Grecian formula, and Poligrip for his thirtieth birthday.

Oh, to be thirty again. Or forty. Or to open my medicine chest and only see a tube of toothpaste, my toothbrush, and my imaginary friend, Callie.

Erin's stuff

Erin’s stuff


  1. No imaginary friends, unless you count every stick of household effects, ala Disney’s Beauty & the Beast or PeeWee’s Playhouse. But beauty products? I’ll admit I have a few. 😉

  2. How true, how true — every word! I have completely taken over the medicine chest in my house. And I remember when 30 seemed very old! Do they still make Gleem toothpaste, by the way?

  3. I admit, Oil of Olay products are my weakness. I have their age-defying facial washcloths, eye cream, moisturizer and use their age defying body wash. It works apparently as I am 56 and am routinely taken for being in my early 30’s. The products are excellent. I only wear mousse matte foundation and mineral powder with lip gloss. I spend very little time on face care and make up. I do remember gleam and its sparkles.

  4. Why remember 1950,s? ..as a boomer born DEC 1948. All l remember is. Snow ..and
    Fred flintlock on tv,….seems everyone wants to clump all boomers in the 50,as

    1. So I got cut off, I listened to jimy Hendrix and Clapton of cream not the 50,s music..as. As
      A boomer DEC 1948 I am tired of being stuffed into a music assumption….remembering
      The 50,s I wasa kid on a sled in snow and sugar pop cereal..period.

    2. Today I decided to mix all of the facial concoctions in my medicine chest together and put them on my 1961 Boomer face.

  5. Very nice. The tongue scraper line made me laugh out loud. Quite good.

    BTW, once you mix all your potions together, who knows you may have a new product on your hands! Oil of Erin (or something).

  6. Haha, very humorous blog, Erin. Thought I would check out your article. I can attest to your ratio of men’s junk to women’s junk, though I think the current millenials are much the same ( with my sons as the control group). Will continue to check out boomercafe.

  7. I live in a highrise.. and with all the trouble I am having with cable modems and tv cable boxes.. I think I am ready to go back to antenna tv.

      1. When I was young all I had to do to turn on the TV, was turn a knob and, “click” it went on (after a warm up period). The same knob adjusted the volume. Then to select a channel I just turned another knob, click click click and it was on NBC. There were only about 4 or 5 channels and no color. No remote and I got my exercise by getting up and down to change channels.

        That was then. Now I can barely figure out how to turn on the TV and figure out what channel to watch out of hundreds. I have a 10 year old kid who hooks up the TV, cable, recorder, etc. for me and fixes problems in seconds.

        Oh for the good old days when there was very limited selection and a snowy screen and tubes would go bad.

  8. Your product descriptions made me laugh! I, too, have drawers of samples and expensive lotions and potions. Thank you for leaving bladder control products out of the possible contents!

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